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Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos by Robert D. Kaplan




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Old War, New War

Robert D. Kaplan presents a timely essay in his new short book, Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos. Reflections from philosophers including Machiavelli, Hobbes and Kant, lead Kaplan to offer some truths from the past to influence current American policies. Here’s an excerpt of what Kaplan has to offer:

“Today’s warriors often come from the hundreds of millions of unemployed young males in the developing world, angered by the income disparities that accompany globalization. Globalization is Darwinian. It means economic survival of the fittest – those groups and individuals that are disciplined, dynamic, and ingenious will float to the top, while cultures that do not compete well technologically will produce an inordinate number of warriors. I saw firsthand the creation of warriors at Islamic schools in Pakistani slums: the children of those shantytowns had no moral or patriotic identity except that which their religious instructors gave them. An age of chemical and biological weapons is perfectly suited for religious martyrdom.
Warriors are also ex-convicts, ethnic and national ‘patriots,’ shadowy arms and drug entrepreneurs awash in cynicism, and failed military men – cashiered officers of formerly Communist and Third World armies. The wars in the Balkans and the Caucasus in the 1990s featured all of these types reborn as war criminals. Whether in Russia, Iraq, or Serbia, nationalism in our age is, Colonel Peters notes, simply a secular form of fundamentalism. Both arise from a sense of collective grievance and historical failure, real or imaginary, and preach a lost golden age. Both dehumanize their adversaries and equate mercy with weakness. Thus, while they are enormous difference between, say, a Radovan Karadzic and an Osama bin Laden, neither plays by our rules; both are warriors.”

Warrior Politics presents timely reflections and thoughtful perspective.

Steve Hopkins, March 20, 2002


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